Four significant moments marked the first day of Francis in Egypt. Admiration and appreciation for the courage shown by the pontiff: "Thank you for having risked your security for us." And some would like an Egyptian capital, as it is today, "clean, uncrowded and of a particular beauty. Reminiscent of the past."
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Four significant moments marked the first day of Pope Francis's apostolic journey to Egypt: the first meeting with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi; His intervention at the Islamic University of al-Azhar, the highest instance of Sunni Islam in the Muslim world, with the aim of strengthening inter-religious dialogue; His second speech, this time more political, in front of the highest institutions in Egypt; Finally, his meeting with the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church and the signing of an historical agreement, which includes the annulment of the second baptism required of Catholics to enter the Coptic Church. Finally, the time of gathering in the small church of Al-Boutrossiya, in memory of all the victims of religious violence in the world.
Here are some of the comments posted online by Egyptian Internet users and the views of the main local commentators on the first day of Pope Francis in Egypt:
Looking at Pope Francis, I wonder if justice and solidarity exist only in our vocabulary, or if we are moving to make them become reality.
Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)
Mubarak welcomed Pope John Paul II at Cairo airport. Al-Sisi did not go to the airport to welcome Francis. I wonder why?
Egyptian blogger, The Big Pharaoh,
The leaders of the Eastern Franciscan Church are wondering why Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi did not receive Pope Francis at the airport. And Egyptian TV commentators are inventing justifications.
Egyptian blogger, Zeinobia
I ask you to pray for my trip to Egypt as a pilgrim of peace.
That the pope comes to visit you in your home in calm and serenity is far better than having him come to visit you within refugee camps.
Hamdi Alzaedy, a Libyan activist
The country which is suffering from terrorism and attacks has prepared a security plan for the pope that could protect everyone. I really wish that this visit will be for the good of all Egypt.
Pope Francis has spared no criticism of the president al-Sisi, but he has done so with much diplomacy and refinement.
Inas Awad, an Egyptian international resident in the United States
God does not need to be protected by men. We are called to walk together, convinced that the future of all depends on the encounter between religions and cultures.
I need to understand where the value of peace lies in a terrified country, in the streets deserted by decree and in the emptied crossroads. All this so that the pope of peace can pass in peace. It's ridiculous.
Racha Azab, political activist
In all honesty, I did not like the speech of the great imam Ahmad Al-Tayeb. He said that modernism and progress are the cause of terrorism and urged the world to oppose the philosophy of modernism. A dangerous passage, if we compare it to the words of Pope Francis, who has brought various positive and justly related concepts to modernity, to Egypt. He encouraged us to learn to build a civilization and told us that God does not ask us to kill.
Rasha Ernest, activist in Upper Egypt
Dear Pope Francis, you reverend father who brings a message of peace and love. Thank you for risking your safety for us. Thank you for having shown to us all that our land is truly an oasis of peace. What we experience is nothing but ephemeral events, which follow with the help of God and with the awareness of our people. May the peace of God accompany you.
Fatma Naout, Egyptian, liberal writer
I wish the Pope could stay with us forever. Our capital is clean, uncluttered and of a special beauty. It reminds me of past times.
Hisham Gheith, Egyptian blogger
Pope Francis in Egypt. Dawn is stronger than darkness, God's eternal love will rule over all of us forever.
Mohamed Metwalli, Egyptian journalist
What has happened today at al-Azhar is the highest Islamic-Christian meeting a global level. We must not forget that terrorism began in the West, more precisely in the United States.
Abdel-Rahim Mourad, former Lebanese Defense Minister
During his first public appearance, after being attacked by activists and media, the great imam Ahmad Al-Tayeb thinks that the lack of peace and security in the world is due to irresistible international political decisions taken by irresponsible nations, and arms trafficking.
Ahmed Ragab, Egyptian journalist
The al-Azhar members present at the conference are unanimous: They told me that Pope Francis is more appreciated than his predecessor.
Aziz El Massassi, French journalist
It’s a remarkable and heartening at this time of great peril: Pope Francis, Coptic Pope Tawadros and Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew pray together.
Alberto Fernandez, Former US ambassador.
Pope Tawadros, as Patriarch of the Church of Egypt, has incarnated his name in universal history by marking the agreement on the annulment of the double baptism of Catholics. I cannot believe I am alive to witness such an event.
Karoline Kamel, Egyptian journalist